Summer break has not gotten off to the best start in terms of the weather here in PA. We have had deluges of rain for several days on the trot and thunderstorms in the evening. No exaggeration, my street looked like a creek at one point on Wednesday. I did not emigrate from the rainy west coast of Scotland to America for this weather, no siree. * The only upside to this ridiculous level of precipitation is that largely being confined indoors means more time for art – and cooking and baking, which I don’t blog about.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the letter “A” so really broad scope to do whatever I wanted really. Maybe it is the preschool teacher in me but “A” immediately made me think, in this order, “Apple, alligator, aardvark, armadillo” and that was as far as I needed to go in my mental dictionary because I determined “armadillo” was it. And not just any armadillo, oh no, but a pink fairy armadillo. My 12 year old did not believe me that those are a real creature so I forced him to google. I literally would not let him leave the room until he had googled and I had proved that pink fairy armadillos are indeed a real life thing. What pink fairy armadillos do not have in real life is fairy wings, or wings of any kind, but I wanted to add them just to accentuate the pink and magical quality of these wee critters. It is an awful lot of pink on one page but, on such a grey and miserable day, lashings of bold pink were welcome. It was also fun to do a more whimsical and childish illustration again.
*And I cursed myself by writing this blog post. As I was drafting it, we were walloped by another ferocious rainstorm and our basement flooded. We used our basement for storage (since our house has no attic) and as a playroom for the kids. We have lost a great number of possessions and only time will tell what the damage is – and what the related expense is to remedy it. I can only assume that the sump pump was overwhelmed and failed. I still feel like I jinxed myself.*
My June Art Snacks box presented me with a challenging colour palette. Along with the neutral mechanical pencil and the fine tip black gel pen, I had two water based pens in bright yellow and a grey-mauve, and a juicy fine tip brush pen in hot pink. I could see how I could just about turn the grey-mauve into a neutral and make it work with either the yellow or the pink but making all three work in some coherent way definitely presented me with a challenge. I also found that grey-mauve watercolour pen tricky to work with. Even though the yellow was the exact same brand, its pigment behaved much differently. That grey-mauve, however, didn’t blend well and I was left with a hard line wherever I had drawn with it. I found the saturation of its pigment very variable too. I do like that colour, however, so I will persevere and continue to experiment with it. There must be a way to get it to cooperate and behave in the same way the yellow did. I very much like the hot pink brush pen, however. It was super juicy and activated really well when I added water and a little goes a long way. I probably should have had the pink dominate the illustration since it was easier to work with. I had not intended to give the female figure a turban. I had originally sketched in that shape to be hair but I decided I needed a bit more yellow in the illustration to make the colours balance out a bit more so a turban it became. There is something about the combination of colours and the style of the figure that makes me think of the 1980s and the New Romantic pop bands of my youth.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “goddesses or monsters”. As long term readers of my blog will know, I love mythology and especially Greek mythology. I was, therefore, overwhelmed by the possibilities and suffered from a creatively crippling bout of indecision. In the end, however, I decided to whip up a quick ink and watercolour illustration of a Minotaur. The Minotaur is one of my favourite monsters and I had not drawn one for a while. This one echoes the body shape and proportions of one I painted in an altered book three years ago. I placed him on a grey background and used a more muted palette so suggest his labyrinth dwelling. I kept second guessing myself as I am usually a bit more bold with my use of colour. However, I am calling this illustration done.
This is one of those art journal pages that ultimately just defeated me. I painted so many layers on this sucker trying to get everything to balance out in an aesthetically pleasing way, including changing the colours several times, but ultimately I just threw my hands up and surrendered because I got sick of the sight of the same page in my art journal and wanted to move on. The one positive thing I can say about this illustration is that all of that layering led to some decent painty texture.
We had a busy Memorial weekend as the youngest Pict turned 10. Double digits is a milestone birthday in our family so it was a big deal. For his birthday celebrations, we took a day trip to the Poconos and ate lots of scrumptious food and delicious treats. I still cannot believe we no longer have a child in single digits. It really is a cliche but they truly do grow so quickly.
Anyway, the three day weekend meant that we had a good dollop of quality family time and also had time to just chill and relax. I, of course, used my solo free time for art and did some art journaling. This particular illustration was a response to an Art Journal Adventure prompt inspired by blueberries or the colour blue. Followers of my blogs will know that I am a tad obsessed with zombies so that is what I decided to draw. I actually recently drew a whole horde of blue zombie bunnies and my last submission to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project was a series on zombies but those were mainly heads. It had been a while since I drew an entire zombie figure. I don’t really know where the pose came from except that I knew I wanted lots of sharp angles from bent limbs and hunched shoulders. Ultimately he ended up looking like he was on his haunches ready to spring into action which seems appropriately predatory.
I actually painted this illustration over a year ago as it was produced in response to an Art Snacks challenge. It was drawn in the yellow section of my Rainbow Art Journal – hence its relevance now. At the time I created it, I thought I might eventually circle back to it and add something to it but ultimately I have left it just as is, as a simple little ink and watercolour illustration. Sometimes, after all, less is more.
I have been doing a lot of illustrations lately, especially drawing people. I like to shake things up a bit so I was, therefore, looking for something creative to do in my art journal that did not involve illustration. This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was about cameras and photographs so that presented me with the spark of inspiration I needed. I thought I would create a sort of mixed media scrapbook page, a background for some photographs.
I had a page in my art journal where one of my cats had spilled ink (technically my fault for leaving the lid off the bottle for even an instant) so that became the basis of my background. I sploshed around a bit more ink, used some found ink to direct the puddles into specific forms (the circles and discs) and then left it to dry. The monochrome background seemed like it would be best for some monochrome photographs so – thinking vintage – I printed out some photos of my grandparents. It was then a case of positioning those on the page and, once I was happy with the placement, adding some washi tape and some little mark-making doodles. I probably went way over the top and made things too busy for a background. One of the washi tapes has cameras on it so that was an apt find in my stash.
I never knew my biological paternal grandfather (lower right) as he was killed at the end of the Second World War. That left my grandmother (lower left) as a war widow in her early 30s with three sons to raise. She supported them by working long hours in the local steamie while her mother, who also worked in the steamie, and a neighbour helped out with childcare. I admired her strength and fortitude. My Dad, incidentally, is the toddler in that photo. The photo at the top of the page is the wedding of my maternal grandparents. They were both a huge influence on who I am as a person. I inherited a lot of my interests and passion and feistiness from my Gran. My Granddad, meanwhile, was just one of the best human beings I ever knew and I feel blessed that I got to have him as my Granddad. He was full of laughter and fun, was always nurturing and encouraging and endlessly supportive. He is also responsible for my love of spicy food and my sweet tooth.